Imposters creating fear among those supporting use of term ‘allah’

(The Malay Mail) – The dispute over the usage of the word “allah” has been taken to Facebook, where individuals are using devious ways to instigate the public.

Pat Lu, an administrator of a Facebook group called We Support the Use of the Name Allah by All Malaysians, discovered that her Facebook profile has been duplicated and misused by unscrupulous individuals and she fears it will be used for bad intentions.

Lu’s co-group administrator Steven Seow was also a victim.

“We were shocked to discover multiple profiles of ourselves — bearing the same profile photo and the same user names — among the group’s members list,” Lu told The Malay Mail.

“Prior to this incident, the group was free for anyone on Facebook to join. We didn’t apply any restrictions for membership then. We had to delete the fake profiles of ‘Pat Lu’ and ‘Steven Seow’. It was tough because every time one ‘fake profile’ gets deleted, another one springs up immediately.

“The fake profiles began ‘liking’ certain comments in the group, particularly comments by members who disagreed on the usage of ‘allah’ by non-Muslims. It wasn’t me or Steven, since we formed this group because of our belief that ‘allah’ should be used by all Malaysians.

“Our concern is that these imposters are trying to confuse the members by making it appear that the group administrators have turned against the group’s stance.”

Another worry is that the ‘Pat Lu’ and ‘Steven Seow’ imposters could post offensive remarks, ‘print-screen’ the remarks, delete them and then lodge a report against the remarks to the police or Facebook.

“We are afraid these imposters might strike when we adminstrators are not monitoring.

We could be hauled for something we didn’t do,” said Lu. They have put restrictions on the group’s  membership following the discovery of the fraudulent profiles.

“From now on, new members will have to be approved by the administrators before joining. We will screen people before we allow them to join.”

Lu said there were at least 500 people applying to join the group each day — at Press time, the group had 93,356 members — with the administrators taking turns to approve membership requests.

She estimates that out of the 500 requests, at least 50 of them are from “dodgy” individuals.

“We are able to identify most of the dubious requests because they don’t use real names, don’t have real photos or don’t have friends in their friends’ lists. But we are afraid some dodgy individuals might join the group with bad intentions.”

In one incident, Lu said, a “member” started with a harmless comment on the group’s comment wall. What followed the harmless comment was a racist remark by another “member”.

“The next thing we knew was that someone ‘print-screened’ the conversation and the print screen image was posted onto another group called Menentang Penggunaan Nama Allah Oleh Golongan Bukan Islam,” she said.

“The person who posted the image captioned it ‘Racists Malaysians!’, which, in a way, implies that our group members are racists. We soon discovered the poster — together with the two ‘members’ who made the initial remarks — were in our members list and both had dubious profiles.”

The actions of the unscrupulous individuals, she said, were disruptive to the nation’s peace and harmony.

“We formed the group to promote harmony among all Malaysians, not to start a fight among one another. We  hope the authorities can do something about this as it’s a very serious matter. We see it as cyber-crime.”

The “allah” usage dispute came about in the wake of the Dec 31 High Court ruling which allowed the Malay language edition of the Catholic weekly magazine, Herald, to use the word “allah” (God) in its publications.